These people are not like you and me: BJP MLA Krushna Khopde on Muslims

Wants army out in Satranjipura area, already sealed under  Coronavirus containment protocol 

Indian MuslimsImage: REUTERS – FRANCIS MASCARENHAS / Representation Image

Even as the Prime Minister himself remained silent on the communal hate being spread against Muslims in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, some from his party continue adding fuel to the fire. In Maharashtra, a BJP MLA has ‘demanded’ that the Indian Army be deployed in Satranjipura, a Muslim-dominated area in Nagpur. 

East Nagpur BJP MLA Krushna Khopde claimed that “a lot of coronavirus cases” had been reported from that area and the residents were “not cooperating with civic officials and police” towards the containment efforts.

He clearly called Muslims the ‘other’ when he told the Indian Express that, “These people are not like you and me. We will cooperate. They won’t. It can’t be managed by local police. That’s why I have demanded military.” The MLA of course has no real authority in “demanding” that the army be deployed but he has succeeded in fanning the flames of hate in the area, and amongst his own followers.

His words are clear hate speech, targeting Muslims and invoking the need for Army intervention making an entire community out to be an enemy. According to news reports the MLA claims that the area has had many people who returned after attending the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizammudin.   “Initially, when the civic authorities had come to do a survey in the area, the people didn’t cooperate. They misbehaved with them and forced them to leave the area. But now several coronavirus cases have been reported from the area. So, I have requested Nagpur Municipal Commissioner Tukaran Mundhe to hand over the area to the military,” Khopde, a three-time MLA from the East Nagpur constituency which covers the Satranjipura area quoted in the report.

The area had already been sealed by the police following the Coronavirus containment protocol that is being practiced across the country. A  68-year old man from the area had died of Covid-19 and several others had also tested positive, said news reports. 

However, for this MLA’, mere sealing is not enough and he wanted the Army to be deployed as it is a “Muslim-dominated locality”.  He implied that Muslim citizens were not law abiding and only the sight of uniformed army personnel in the area will scare them into staying indoors. He has not presented any proof or data to back his accusations, or claims.

The Indian Army has not been deployed for law and order reasons in any Coronavirus containment area so far. In fact army teams had been helping out by providing expertise for monitoring cases of travelers in quarantine from March. As reported in the  financial Express, “Medical staff has been placed at the Indian Army Wellness Centre at Jaisalmer to monitor all those evacuated people from Iran who are being quarantined in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19. The Army Chief General MM Naravane, accompanied by Lieutenant General CP Mohanty, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command reviewed the facilities provided at the Wellness Centre.”

In March, the chief of army staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, had also launched Operation Namaste to prepare the army to assist in helping with the national efforts needed to flatten the Coronavirus transmission curve. According to a report in The Diplomant, the troops had been trained in collaborating  with law enforcement authorities to make sure that lockdown rules were followed. According to the Economic Times, this training involved the many precautions to be taken including the type of clothing and protective gear needed by soldiers on duty. 

The Diplomat had reported at that time that no states had “formally requested the Indian Army’s assistance in enforcing a lockdown. The Indian Army has been in contact with the state governments of Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan.”

However people like MLA Khopde see the Coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to make it a communal pandemic. He claimed that Muslims are “loitering” in groups and implied that non Muslims were concerned. According to the MLA, “There is an atmosphere of panic in the area due to this. Handing the area over to the military will mitigate it.”  “You go to Mominpura. You will find the same scene there. These people are not like you and me. We will cooperate. They won’t. It can’t be managed by local police. That’s why I have demanded military.”

The Express asked Nagpur Municipal Commissioner Tukaran Mundhe about Khopde’s charges against Muslim residents of  Satranjipura and he said, “People have started cooperating but more cooperation is expected, particularly in giving information to NMC staff for containment and survey.”

People like BJP MLA Khopde are merely reflecting the undercurrents of communal hate which are threatening to be more dangerous than the Coronavirus pandemic itself.  He perhaps also draws his ‘confidence’ to openly discriminate against Muslims from his party seniors like lawyer Subramanian Swamy who in a video interview to Vice News said things like, “They are not an equal category… Muslims are not, or should not be, equal is not an uncommon sentiment.”


The Prime Minister’s deliberate silence on the threat of communal targeting and vilification of Muslims is also enabling these once fringe elements into making loud public proclamations of hate. Even when the vaccine, and cure, for Covid-19 has been found, the communal virus would have taken deeper roots.




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